It's my story Odd Love revamped and for the most part, rewritten. I'm reposting the rewrite instead of replacing because the structure is going to be fairly different. If I just replaced chapters you'd get confused. And the goal here is to make the story EASIER to understand.
How do you start a story that hasn’t even ended? I’m in the middle of it and can barely make sense of it myself, how can I make you understand what I don’t? Hell if I know how, but I never was all that good at starting things much less finishing them. But that’s not the point here. I have a lot to tell you, and only a little bit of time to do it so I better get going
So this entire adventure started a few weeks after we moved to Bedford. This town, like many towns where weird shit goes down, is surrounded on all sides by a forest. Not just any forest though. This is the kind of forest that people used to think ate children and spawn demons. The only reason Bedford was still surrounded by trees unlike many other towns in its exact situation is because of the bevy of mysterious accidents that occur every time anyone tries to cut down a tree. Large lumber companies would buy the rights to the woods and send out teams to begin cutting only to have those teams disappear without a trace. Some would show up weeks later, addled and spewing nonsense about fairies, while others would be found miles away horribly mauled and unrecognizable except for their dental records. Even though people kept dying, and the crazy just seemed to keep growing, the developers would keep coming back. What did finally stop their tireless assaults though was the discovery of a rare breed of bird particular to the species of oak in Bedford’s forest. And so the woods stayed.
Bedford was small. The population was only about 3,000 and laid out in a neat grid pattern. The buildings were ancient. The few new buildings in among the old stuck out like children at a funeral. There was once a clear line that divided the rich side of town from the poor, but it was seriously blurred nowadays. Formerly luxurious houses stood chipped and stooped, their windows grimy, their yards patchy. The people who lived in them were just as bad, their glared out from behind dark curtains with hard eyes and even harder hearts.
I had taken to wandering the streets during the day, since most of our time was spent unpacking and ‘settling in’ as mom put it, which was code for ‘too lazy to take care of it at the moment’. We had been in town for a week but mom had just registered us. It was on the day before school started that the first weird thing happened. I was walking to the corner store on main street to grab a snack. The most normal of activities, right? Well, it seems like there’s an equation for I; the more normal the activity, the stranger the occurrence. It had worked out so far. It was only downhill after this one.
I had just walked into the store when I saw it. He was an impossibly tall, impossibly thin man buying a candy bar. His ears were pointed and thin, the feathers on the ends twitched nervously as his head jerked back and forth. He had a stalking step similar to that of a crane and the face to match. As if it were going to help, he wore a long trench coat. It hid the worst of his…Otherness, but it didn't hide the fact that his knees were backward. As if he sensed a predator, he jumped and spun towards me, scanning me with eyes as dull as river pebbles.
“Who a you?” He squawked. I just pretended I hadn't noticed the fact that he was a freakin bird and walked to the back freezer to grab an ice cream.
“Eh, Who a you?” He squawked. “Not a talka?”
Yeah, a fudge pop sounded good. “Eh? Who a you?”
I walked out the door and my new friend was right behind. Geez, was he planning on following me home?
“Hey, buddy! Get back in here and pay for that!” Shouted the man at the register as bird guy appeared to make a run for it.
Bird guy disappeared back into the store and I ran for it before he could get back outside. I immediately ran face first into someone else and stumbled backwards. I rubbed my nose. Whoever it was, they were built like a wall.
“Oh, sorry.” I said, for lack of anything better to say. For once, I had to look up to stare this person in the eye. That surprised me. At 6’ 0”, I’m the one who has to look down
“No harm done.” He smiled and I felt my knees go weak. His eyes were hazel.
“Yeah,” I fought the urge to run and walked away slowly. Running might make me trip and look like an even bigger loser. “See you.”
The man’s eyes twinkled and a strange smile curved his lips. “Indeed you can.”
The next day was our first day at school. Bedford High was situated in a building that was held together by what looked like duck tape and a prayer. I had just walked into the cafeteria. It was too small to hold all of the high school’s students. All of the tables were filled and filled again. People who couldn’t find a spot at the table itself simply grabbed a chair and scooted as close as possible. Those who couldn’t even do that stood in flocks of 3s and 4s in whatever corner was available. When corners ran out, they moved outside. I was one of the people waiting outside. No one really introduced themselves and I was way too shy to thrust myself into their small worlds. They’d probably known each other since kindergarten. I simply sat down on the edge of the cement patio and scuffed a boot through a ragged patch of grass. It was a gray day, you know the sort. It was the kind that makes everything looks dingy and worn out. The sky was overcast, but no rain was in sight.
I looked away from the sky and across the small field of grass to the line of trees. Everywhere I looked there were trees. And not the kind I was used to seeing back home in California. These were behemoths. Something about them put me on edge.
“Welcome to small town life, Adelle.” I turned around at hearing my name and smiled at my brother. If weren’t for the fact that we were probably the only black family in town, it would have been hard to see that we were related. For one, he was darker than me. While I was a light ‘caramel’ he was ‘mocha’. While I stood tall and all hips, he was reedy and a foot shorter than me, his hair fell to the middle of his shoulder blades while mine was cut to right below my ears and stuck up every which way. The only thing we had in common were our eyes. The same brown, the color of mud.
“Yeah, it’s a blast so far. A real laugh riot.” I didn’t have much back in California, all my family was here in Bedford now. But bum nowhere wasn’t exactly my idea of excitement. Nick sat down next to me and cleaned his glasses on his shirt with slow circular motions. I watched him and sighed. I could see it now. Morning after morning until I graduated, I and my brother ostracized from the locals. I would simply sit and watch him clean his glasses for a change of pace. I was frowning at the future when something white flickered in the corner of my eye. I turned to get a better look and for a moment, the shape coalesced into the form of a man in a suit. He waved in my direction, blew what looked like a kiss, and then disappeared.
‘Huh, that was weird.” I said.
“What?” Nick finally stopped cleaning his glasses and put them back on. He looked in the direction I was staring and shrugged. “I don’t see anything, Ad.”
“Yeah, guess I’m just imagining things.” Finally, the bell for class rang. Nick poofed and I were left sitting alone. I waited for the crowds to die down then disappeared into the halls, my only guide a hastily crumpled class schedule.
In the back of my mind I hoped, like many kids my age hoped, that I would meet a few potential friends. So far, that didn’t look like it was going to happen. I had gone through 4 class periods of awkward introductions in front of classes that could care less about my existence, much less where I was from. As lunch rolled around, I was pushed along by the hungry waves of teenagers until they broke apart in the cafeteria. I was left standing in the middle of the room as if I were lost at sea. I was thrown a lifesaver in the form of my brother Nick.
“Hey Adelle,” he waved from a half-empty table. “Stop looking like a fish out of water and pop a squat.”
I ‘popped a squat’ like I was ordered and tried to look friendly as nick introduced me to our 3 table mates. The girl to my right was named Nina Velasquez. She was short and so bubbly that I felt my mouth lifting into a smile. She had the darkest hair I had ever seen and it was cut in a style that matched her personality: Flippy and fun. Her brother on the other hand, was a completely different story. When I looked at Nico, I saw graveyards and mortuaries. He muttered a sullen hi under his breath and went back to looking at his hands. His hair fell in greasy locks around his face and shielded his eyes. The smile his sister had put on my face teetered and fell. The guy sitting next to Nick was friendly enough, I didn’t catch his name. He smiled with perfect teeth, gave me an eloquent and faintly British hello, and immediately became distant again as he went back to his book. I shrugged it off as nothing personal and dug in my pocket for some change.
“Nick, get me a soda.” I said as I handed him a large wad of dollars and quarters.
“I’m assuming there was a please in there. And a ‘Nick you can get yourself one too’ as well.” He smirked at me, one eyebrow raised.
“Assume away, brother mine.”
Nick walked outside and I was left alone with Bubbly, depressing-y, and the redhead. I was considering pulling out my sketchbook so that I would have a reason to not talk when Redhead suddenly looked up from his book.
“Bedford must be quite a bit different after living in such a big city, eh?”
“Definitely,” I sighed and kicked my messenger bag under the table. No drawing this period. “I actually have trouble sleeping. It’s a lot quieter here.”
Nina grinned. “That’s funny! One time, we visited my Aunt in Seattle and I couldn’t sleep. It was too loud.”
I attempted to smile and laugh as if that were indeed rather funny. Instead I sounded like a wheezing geriatric. They asked me a few more questions about Southern California and I answered. Mercifully, Nick finally came with soda. I took a large gulp from mine gratefully and let him take over the conversation. My brother has always been better at talking to people.
“So where do you guys live?” Nina asked.
“Uh, 1256 Waltmore Street? It’s kind of weird, because the house-“
“Is technically on two streets?” Redhead interrupted. I looked up from my drawing and raised an eyebrow. Bedford is a small town, so I’m not surprised he knew where our house was. But by the way Redhead said it, it wasn’t a good thing.
“Yeah, exactly! You know it?”
“Are you kidding? Everyone knows the Caraway House. The best bit of history we’ve got I’m afraid. You see, back in the 1800s there was this man called Alexander Caraway…”
I can’t tell you what he said after that. I stopped paying attention. My sketchbook was by far more entertaining than some ghost story.
Finally it was the last class of the day! I did my spiel in front of the class and sat down in the seat the teacher indicated was mine. Even though it was AP English 4, they were going over stuff I had learned Junior Year. So I whipped out my sketchbook and started doodling a cat in a tuxedo. It was then that a piece of paper clipped my ear. I frowned behind me, past a boy who was obviously stoned off his ass, and spotted Nina. She waved energetically and pointed at the note. So I opened it.
Hi Adelle! What are ya drawin? Also your boots are super awesome. :D
I frowned slightly. Was it really possible for someone to be this happy? She had decorated the note with singing flowers and a happy sun. Singing flowers, I kid you not.
Nothing, really just doodling. And thanks. I got them for 20 bucks at a thrift store.
I passed the note behind me and the stoned guy did the same. I watched our flabby English teacher continue her uninspired lecture on writing for AP exams, and then the note was back on my desk.
Ooh! How cool! Thrift Store here in town never has anything that awesome.
So English continued on and on like that for a while. During that time, I learned that Nina had another brother aside from Nico, but that he was away at school. Her parents were still together and had been for about 20 years. She also lived on the other side of town and had three cats named Alpha, Omega, and Barnaby. She seemed nice enough, so I let her plan the first of what would become many off-campus lunches on the street of restaurants known as the strip. Things were really looking up! When school ended, I found Nick and told him I was walking home. I had to hit either the woods or my house eventually, right? It was turning into a cold day. I silently cursed at not bringing a jackt with me.
When I hit main street, I realized someone was following me.
Of course thanks to society today, it did flash through my mind that this guy might be some sort of serial killer or rapist, but I dismissed that immediately. Not only because I was not rape material, standing at a sturdy 6’ 0” foot even, but because I wasn’t all that pretty. I would slip under the radar of any rapist, especially not one as handsome as this one. He was at least a couple of inches taller than me, his hair was a dark, dark black, he had a strong jaw with a slight wisps of the starts of a small beard growing on his chin, of all things, he was wearing a suit. Seeing as he couldn’t possibly be more than a few years older than me, I thought it was a bit odd. Maybe he’d just gotten out of a funeral? When he saw that I was looking at him, his hazel eyes lit up, he grinned like a kid offered a treat and waved.
I frowned at him and kept walking. Of course, I heard the clack of the dress shoes he was wearing on the pavement as he started following me again.
“Look dude, “I turned to him, readying my extra-heavy backpack in case whapping action was needed, “I have no idea why you’re following me, but stop it, it’s creeping me out.”
Weird Guy grinned as if I’d just told him a joke and then of all possible reactions, bowed to me.
“Marvelous, you really can see me!”
“Yes? You’re not exactly a small guy.” I looked down Main Street, hoping for someone to be out and about, and guess what? I saw no one. Fan-freaking-tastic.
“Well, I apologize for not saying anything, but I’ve been walking behind you for quite a while, I didn’t want to bother talking to someone who couldn’t acknowledge me.” He scratched his chin and grinned again. What the heck was going on here?
“Right, well it was fun chatting, but mom always said to not talk to strangers, and you’re one strange dude.” I turned and quickly walked away. Yet again, the clack of dress shoes followed me step for step.
“Wait! I wasn’t done chatting with you, my lovely!”
“Well I sure as heck am!” I yelled over my shoulder as I broke into a run. I ducked into what looked like a pizza parlor and surprised the poo out of the lady working the register. She took one look at my face, and then shooed me under the counter. I took a few deep breaths then froze as the bell over the front door rang.
“Excuse me; have you seen a girl come in here? Cute, short hair, wearing a long sleeved shirt?”
Without skipping a beat, the pizza parlor lady shook her head. “No, she didn’t come in here, Hun.”
I believe some sort of stare down happened if the tension was any indicator, and then Suit Guy left. I rolled out from under the counter and hugged my savior.
“God, thanks Mrs.-?”
“Velasquez,” Mrs. Velasquez patted me on the head and smiled. I was becoming pretty familiar with that smile. “No problem, honey, we get creeps around here like that sometimes.”
“Hey, are you Nina’s mom? I met her today.” Her face lit up, I had guessed right.
I hung out with Mrs. Velasquez for a little while, since I was too nervous to leave just yet. After we chatted for a bit, learned how to make pizza dough, and received both her and her daughter’s email address and cell phone number. She told me to call if that guy showed his face again. Nina’s dad was a cop apparently. I told her good-bye andmMuch like the gazelle sensing the nearness of the lion, crept out of the pizza parlor.
I looked up and down the sidewal, and across the street for good measure. Assured that Suit Guy wasn’t hiding behind a lamp post or a trash can, I set out for home. I was passing by a park. I was thinking about whether it meant was more than half-way home when I heard a chuckle from…One of the trees? What the hell? I looked up and spotted Suit Guy seated in the crook of an old oak near the park entrance. How he had gotten up there while in a suit was anybody’s guess.
“Nice night, huh?” Suit guy said, lips curled into a smirk.
“Uh-huh…” I looked around, not only was it getting dark, but the street was once again, deserted. This dude sure knew how to pick ‘em. “I would scream, but there’s no one around to hear.”
“Smart. Besides, I only want to talk.” Suit guy replied.
“Oh yes, we can most definitely talk with you up in an old tree, and me down her-” With the grace of a cat, Suit Guy jumped from his spot in the Oak and landed with a quiet thump in front of me. I took and involuntary step backwards. Had his eyes always been that particular shade of yellow?
“Now tell me something, pretty girl,” He said, one hand casually shoved into a pants pocket. “Why do you smell like someone I know?”
“Maybe we use the same soap? How would I know?” I tried to look behind me without moving my head but he caught me anyway. He moved closer and I flinched. He didn’t touch me though. He simply blocked my escape.
“I like you,” Suit Guy grinned in an extremely X-rated sort of way and I felt what must have been a blush spread across my cheeks. Since when was I able to blush? “But really, why do you reek of magic?”
“I’m sorry if my odor offends you, but I have no idea what you’re talking about. So can I go home now?” He was crazy. He was a crazy man with a crazy nose from crazy land.
“No, “Suit Guy stared at me intently for a moment and then sighed. “I suppose you don’t.”
I tried to back away but he blocked me. “I didn’t say we were done though, did I?”
“Look, I have 5 dollars in my wallet. I will give it to you. Just let me go home, yeah?”
I tried to get past him but he simply blocked me again. I wished right then more than anything that I knew where the hell a man’s solar plexus was. Then I could run away while he rolled around in pain. “What?! I ‘told you something’ just like you wanted me to.”
“You sure do get angry easily. I kind of like that.” He said.
“ ‘Easily’? You’ve been stalking me for the past few hours. There is nothing easily angered about this!”
Suit Guy chuckled and smiled in a way that made me warm to my toes. What was wrong with me today? “Along with being Beautiful, you have a biting wit. Would you care to be my lover?”
“Wha? I, uh, Wait,” I shook my head. Focus, Adelle! He might be cute, but he’s a stalker, a blind stalker apparently. “Who are you?”
He winked at me and held a finger to his lips. “I’ll tell you, for a kiss.”
“No, No way.”
“What a pity.” He looked me square in the eye for a moment; his expression was intense. I was on the verge of pinching myself to see if this was just another of my weird nonsensical dreams when he suddenly right there, nose to nose. I blinked in shock as he grabbed the back of my neck and kissed me firmly. I’m not sure what most girls notice when a guy’s that close to them, but for me it’s the way they smell. And let me tell you, the guy smelled amazing. It was a mix of the usual guy smell and a faint hint of cologne, and I got lost in it for a moment. Then I, you know, remembered I was kissing a complete stranger and pushed him away.
“Since I had to take it, no name for you.”
“What the heck?! Do you always just go around kissing random girls?”
“Only the cute ones.” He grinned impishly .
“Please, I am not cute.”
“I beg to differ!” He cocked his head, as if listening to some far off signal and sighed. “Our time is up I’m afraid. Never fear, my lovely I shall return to thee!”
He started walking off into the park, and then turned and shouted. “Don’t bother fretting over if I’ll be able to find you again by the way, I know where you live.”
“That wasn’t just talking, you jerk!” That only made him laugh.
Then he was gone and I was confused. What had just happened exactly?